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Professionals Podcast - Biotechnology

http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/professionals-podcasts/biotechnology

Introduction
Professional podcasts from LearnEnglish help you to improve
your English for your career in the workplace, and cover a
large number of business and work themes. They are suitable
for learners at intermediate to advanced level.
This support pack accompanies the Professionals podcast:

Biotechnology
To read or listen to the article online, go to:
http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/professionals-
podcasts/biotechnology
This support pack contains the following materials: Listen to two students talking about
genetically modified food. Frank is for
a pre-reading vocabulary activity GM food but his friend Ann is against it.
the article
a comprehension task
a language task - vocabulary

Before you listen


Match the words and phrases in the table to their definitions.

1. genetically
2. vaccine 3. ecosystem 4. global warming
modified

5. habitat 6. extinct 7. a guinea pig 8. climate change

9. daft 10. altered 11. havoc 12. cynical

13. cautious 14. dominate 15. a knock on effect 16. debate

Definitions:
a. confusion and disorder
b. an increase in the world temperature caused by gasses like CO2
c. to control someone totally
d. describes a person who thinks people are selfish – someone who doesn’t trust anyone
e. an type of medicine that prevents people from getting a disease
f. a formal discussion
g. something that happens because of the event that happened before
h. describes a plant or animal that has been changed by scientists
i. all the animals and plants living in an area
j. changed, generally improved
k. when all the individuals of a species have died (like dinosaurs and the dodo)
l. someone who is used in a test for something such as a new medicine or product
m. describes a silly or stupid person
n. the natural home of an animal or plant
o. the way the world's weather is changing
p. describes someone who is very careful

© The British Council, 2011 Page 1 of 3

The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.
Professionals Podcast - Biotechnology
http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/professionals-podcasts/biotechnology

Transcript
Frank: So why are you so against genetically modified food then? I think you’ve been taken in by all the bad
press.
Ann: No, that’s not true. I’ve read up on the subject and I think there are just too many risks.
Frank: The GM foods that you get are probably safer than non GM foods.
Ann: Don’t be daft. Where’ve you got that from?
Frank: Well, there are tighter controls for GM food. There are controls in each country and then at a European
level as well. If they pass through all of those controls before they reach the shops, they must be ok.
Ann: I just don’t like the idea of having my food altered. What’s wrong with the food we’ve always had?
Frank: We have to move with the times. The possibilities for GM food are endless.
Ann: What, redder tomatoes or bigger strawberries?
Frank: Yes, for one thing. But what about vegetables with a higher vitamin content or bananas with vaccines
built into them.
Ann: What? (laughing)
Frank: It’s true. They’ve developed a way to produce bananas with the Hepatitis B vaccine.
Ann: Mm, not sure what I think of that. We haven’t done enough research, and playing around with crops is
playing havoc with the wildlife. There are whole species of birds that are in danger of becoming extinct.
Larks for example, they are rapidly decreasing in numbers, and it’s because of the chemicals they are
using on GM foods.
Frank: They haven’t proved that.
Ann: Not yet, no. But it’s only a matter of time.
Frank: Mm.
Ann: And another thing that worries me is the power that a few food companies will have if we start to rely on
GM food. They’ll dominate the poor countries even more than they do today.
Frank: They’ll feed them.
Ann: At a price, yes. Maybe. I’m worried about the food chain, too.
Frank: What do you mean?
Ann: Well, playing around with nature causes no end of damage to some plants and animals. When a
species dies out or mutates, it has a knock on effect on the whole ecosystem.
Frank: I think you’re being cynical. You’re not giving GM food a chance.
Ann: Not cynical; just cautious.
Frank: Ok, consider this. Global warming is threatening to destroy the habitat of polar bears.
Ann: What’s this got to do with genetically modified food?
Frank: Everything. We could use GM food to change the polar bears’ habitat now. That way, we can prevent
them from becoming extinct.
Ann: Ok, I quite like that idea.
Frank: Good. You’re starting to come round to my way of thinking.
Ann: No. I’m just trying to understand. I don’t like being a guinea pig and we are all being guinea pigs for the
experiments they’re doing on GM foods. I guess I don’t like the way thing seem to just be happening
without much of a debate.
Frank: What do you mean? We’re talking about it all the time.
Ann: Talking maybe, but nobody’s listening.

© The British Council, 2011 Page 2 of 3

The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.
Professionals Podcast - Biotechnology
http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/professionals-podcasts/biotechnology

Comprehension Task
True or False
Listen to the conversation and decide whether these statements are true or false.

1. Frank thinks Ann has been influenced by the newspapers.

2. Frank thinks non-GM foods are safer than GM foods.

3. Scientists have worked out a way of introducing a vaccine into bananas.

4. Ann thinks food companies will make money out of feeding poor countries.

5. Frank thinks Ann is being negative.

6. Ann is worried about guinea pigs becoming extinct.

Language Task
Choose the correct word
Read this summary of the conversation between Frank and Ann and choose the correct words.

Frank is in favour of genetically modified food because he believes it can 1. provide / save
1
help to _________ food for poor countries. He also thinks it should be 2. vegetables / meat
2
used to make more vitamin-enhanced _________ and to change the
3. extinct / ill
habitats of species that are in danger of losing their habitats and becoming
3 4
_________ . Ann disagrees. She thinks GM foods are _________ and 4. tasteless / unnatural
5
potentially _________. She is worried about rich countries dominating 5. expensive / dangerous
poor countries when they control the food supplies. She doesn't like the fact
6 6. advertising / experiments
that companies are using her for their GM _________ . Ann thinks that GM
7 7. rise / fall
food is responsible for the _________ in the numbers of some birds. Frank
8
says there is _________ evidence to prove this. 8. no / some

Answers

© The British Council, 2011 Page 3 of 3

The United Kingdom’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.